I sure hope so since this is how I identify myself. At the risk of getting kicked out of the Atheist club, let me elaborate.

While my attempts as a child to believe in God like a good little citizen failed, my exposure to living science, quantum physics, seeing the universe and all that is in it as a whole lot of life-in-action, stuck with me. As I grew up and began to explore my world from the angle of all things being made up of the same 'stuff,' the known and even greater unknown interconnectedness and energy within this 'stuff' and thusly the interconnectedness and common DNA between you, me, my cat, my snake, a tree, a rock, the wind, an asteroid, a star, carried with it a lot more reason and beauty than “God did it.”

At the same time, I have learned indirectly on my own and directly from other sources a fair amount of meditation and self-control-through-the-mind techniques. Dealing with chronic pain, dealing with a weird but needed-to-be-dealt-with phobia, finding my own greater strength in martial arts. All of this involves a degree of grasping control in our own selves over things we and even the scientific community have yet to fully understand or define. An athlete mentally prepares and gets in the zone before the big game; visualizes the goal line, visualizes him/herself in top physical form. Is that supernatural hoodoo?

Likewise, while quantum physics, atomic energy and Unified Field Theory make perfect sense to me, they make for boring visuals when I'm trying to 'get in the zone.' I don't know what atomic particles look like. But, the image of Halle Berry in the first X-Men, vanquishing my inner demons much like she vanquished Toad, makes for a cool visual that my brain can definitely latch onto.

This is where practices of Paganism and even methods of Witchcraft come in handy for me. E.g.; I really need to be able to go to Dad's funeral without my sister driving me to insanity. So I find some quiet time, burn some sage or incense, create my sacred space, and envision a psychic shield around myself which my sister can not penetrate with her well-meaning but insanity-provoking behavior.

Do I literally think the sage/incense have mystical powers in and of themselves? Not really. They are pleasant aromas and ones both my conscious and subconscious mind have come to associate with relaxation and getting rid of the worries of the day. Plus, they carry a historical, traditional role in getting rid of the worries of the day, a fact which stimulates other parts of the psyche. Do I literally think I have created a magical, sacred space around me that looks like a light show out of a Disney cartoon? Not really. But what I have done is found a quiet place and filled it with pleasant light and smells; an act psychologically proven to enhance focus and concentration. Do I literally think I have created a physical, psychic force field? Not so much in the literal sense but what I am doing psychologically is tapping in to parts of the brain that I and modern science have yet to fully understand in order to try and make myself less-driven-insane by my sister when the time comes.

In other words, yes – there are bona-fide crystal crunching new agers out there who have replaced 'Jesus' with 'Goddess,' but otherwise little has changed. They literally believe in fairies and tree spirits and angels and that they are Princess-whomever reincarnated into the saps they are now.

But then there are some of the practices themselves: Respect for nature. Envisioning the tree as a living organism. Picturing the planet in terms of a collective, living organism. Wrapping one's mind around the concept that both I and the rock I'm sitting on are ultimately made up of the same 'stuff' (protons, neutrons, electrons). Envisioning the Unified Field and interconnectedness of the cosmos, attempting to tap into the coolness of that interconnectedness to somehow improve my own state of mind, awareness of the space around me, or athletic performance so I can win the game today. I've met many a Pagan/Wiccan who holds this point of view; that they don't believe in most of it literally, but rather as a psychological exercise that works well for them scientifically.

So, does that get me kicked out of the Atheist club? Or can one dance naked under the Full Moon or welcome the Summer Solstice from a purely beauty-in-science point of view?

Views: 4608

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

No, it doesn't. Gravity is equal to the speed of light. All messenger particles move equal to the speed of light.
I don't see anything wrong with meditation and appreciating the beautiful things of the world, but I think that it's interested that you've decided to identify yourself as Pagan. Normally, I associate the word Pagan with the kind of people who say things like,

"Your aura is so bright I can't even look at you!"
or
"If I hadn't had my crystal with me I would have gotten mugged."

There is a lot of pseudo-science and superstition that is mixed up with this New Age crap, and honestly I think that it takes an even greater level of intellectual dishonesty than Christianity. Anyways, as long as you don't descend into the world of woo, I think that it's great that you've found a way to express you love of nature.
More accurately, Neo-Pagan. I've run into quite a few people who insist that what they believe/practice is an "Anciente Art". I suppose that's accurate if "anciente" is 50 years old. Fakelore is rampant in Neo-Pagan circles.
Why then do Druids and Pagans choose to identify with the woo-woo crowd? As a socialist, I don't identify with Stalin or Pol-Pot.

So what gives?
Well, keep in mind that Druid is a subset of Pagan, so that starts us down the path toward an answer to your question.

Much of the "community" of Pagans is made up of Wiccans, and they likely do for the most part identify with the "woo-woo." The Druids, with whom I have been associated for over a decade, is far more "naturist/pantheist" than any other pagan group I have found. But, for purposes of classification, most people put the Druids into the category of Pagans, which again puts us together with the "Goddess Love You" Wiccans.

In other words, the association is less the Druids associating with or identifying with the "woo-woo" crowd, and more the collective terms that include the Druids force the association. Hope that makes sense.
Many Neo-Druids and Neo-Pagans are the woo-woo crowd.

Neo-Druidry is a subset of Neo-Pagan, which is the umbrella term. All Wiccan's identify as witches, but not all witches are Wiccan. Wicca also falls under the umbrella of Neo-Paganism, as well as all the witches who identify with European pre-Christian beliefs. Quite a few would be offended if someone were to say that most Neo-Pagans are atheist or agnostic.

Which witch is which? These witches are not to be confused with witches whose beliefs originate in other parts of the world, who probably don't call themself "witch" in their own language.

Neo-Pagans are a diverse lot. Many have cherry-picked bits and pieces from Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente's creation, Wicca (which is about 60 years old), They cherry picked from Golden Dawn Rosicrucians, drew from Dr. Margaret Murray's, James Frazer's and Alisteir Crowley's writings, as well as "Aradia, the Gospel of Witches". More than likely, I've left something out. There are many break-off groups and revealed "traditions" in Neo-Paganism, and more all the time.

Neo-Druidry was inspired by 17th - 19th century Romantic movements, which included theories about the Iron Age Celtic Druids. These are no longer considered historically accurate. Neo-Druidry is a creation, just like other Neo-Pagan forms, not a direct line to any ancient Celts. Some Neo-Druids identify with woo woo, some don't.

People mix-and-match a lot, too. Back in Ye Olde Days, I used to run into people who collected initiations, certificates, degrees, etc... from a variety of groups and "traditions" (generally, nothing older than 60 years old. One semi-prominent Neo-Druid is a member of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), a Mason, was the director of a parapsychology program at a university, a Reiki practioner, has a diploma in homeopathy, and is a Wiccan minister.
Amy, my conception is that the issue isn't the definition of atheism but the definition of paganism. Paganism has many deist-related connotations and downright sub-definitions.
Why then do Pagans identify with the woo-woo crowd?

I still find that a lot of people who claim Pagan/Wicca/etc are former Christians who really haven't given up the core tenets of Theism; "I need to believe in a god(s) who rewards me and whom I can appeal to for control over my world."

Worse, "Holier than thou" simply becomes, "I'm more enlightened/open than you are." That was a massive pet-peeve when I was tour guiding in Sedona. If you didn't 'feel' the Vortex, "It's because you just aren't open to it." >_<

Customers of mine would love it when I would immediately dismiss that. "This canyon is one of my favorite spots. Some days I come here and I'm totally in-the-zone. It's a beautiful day, I'm in the right frame of mind, I feel connected to everything, I can divide by zero! Other days, I'm feeling bitchy and uncomfortable and I just really have to pee. It has nothing to do with me not being an 'open' person."

Also, I do sometimes use visuals and analogy which utilize very woo-woo language. Growing up I especially liked the Native American use of the word 'medicine' to describe so much of what comes into our lives. "Julie is a good person, she's good medicine, I'm really glad I know her." Because in very scientific seriousness, if Julie is a good friend, helps me in a time of need, is a good shoulder to lean on, she is indeed very healing for me and thereby 'good medicine.'

When I speak of someone having weird energy, or I put my hand out as I cross Glen Canyon Dam to feel the energy of the Colorado River, I'm thinking of energy in the very literal sense. Everything and everyone has an electrical charge. Small and subtle as it is, is it such a stretch to think I can put my hand out and imagine a little bit of the River's electricity somehow merging with a little bit of my electricity? At the very least, it does psychological wonders, and unlike the woo-woo crowd, I fully realize that the effect is more psychological than anything.

And unlike the woo-woo crowd, acknowledging the psychological, self-fulfilling-prophecy aspect of it all still does not have to detract from the beauty or the nifty visual that I'm holding out my hand and 'connecting' to the River and its history.
Ok, I can understand that.



I wish we Atheists could start using our own language to communicate our spiritual selves. More often than not we end up co-opting theistic language and redefining it to our own ends. Unfortunately, the Atheist community is far to heterogenous to create a unified alternative to theistic ways of communicating.
Frankly, it is AMAZING to see someone who thinks much as I do. Naturalists/Pantheists such as myself to be a bit "cast out" from the pagan community because we do not actually dance FOR some kind of deity. My personal journey sounds like yours: inability to tow the "party line" like a good little soldier in the army of a personal deity, but mine went a little further. In my VAIN effort to make myself believe, I actually attempted seminary. MASSIVE FAILURE! But at least I came out of it saner than I was, convinced that I needed to ask more questions, accept other's tales not at all, and read more on my own.

Perhaps one of the advantages of being a Pantheist who does practice some basic Pagan behaviors is that I have something to focus on, as you mention, when things are bad. Does the dragon's blood resin have any kind of "magic" to it? Of course not, but it smells good, it lets my mind find something other than the difficulties to locate mentally, and I like it.
Plus, just the fact that it's called "Dragon's blood resin" would make me feel like I am a super-magickal witch somewhere in Middle Earth, preparing for the arrival of a very scruffy and insanely sexy Vigo Morttenson.

If that doesn't improve my frame of mind, I just don't know what will.
O Amy I must explore this in greater depth please begin a blog. My wife will tell you i think of anything with majesty or power as female. From ships Iv sailed on to mountains Iv gazed upon. And yeah Atheist that I am, my wife is a goddess!!

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

AJY

 

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service